Residents of the South Side neighborhood where Chicago police officer Michael Bailey was murdered early Sunday morning say it has been especially violent the last few weeks.
Residents of the South Side neighborhood where Chicago police officer Michael Bailey was murdered early Sunday morning say it has been especially violent the last few weeks. A neighbor in the Park Manor neighborhood, who asked that her name be withheld, said she heard gunfire erupt shortly before 6 a.m., and then heard sirens. “It was rapid. I heard about five shots. There was a lot of commotion on the block around 2 a.m. and a lot of things going on yesterday evening around the vacant lot on the next block. It’s not the same around here anymore. I grew up around here and it’s vastly changed,” the neighbor told the Defender, adding she’s known Bailey and his family for at least two decades. Violence in the neighborhood seemed to have been at a high within the last four weeks, according to another resident. Within a one-week span, there’s been a stabbing outside a nightclub and episodes of shootings, she said. “It’s been really bad. (Saturday) someone was stabbed outside The Apartment club on 75th Street,” resident Joanne Mims told the Defender. “About a week ago a man was shot on 79th Street. A few days ago while I was walking my dog on 74th and Rhodes, a man was standing in the street with a gun in each hand just shooting across 75th Street. This was around 6 that night. I had to duck behind a tree until it was over,” Mims said. Mims, who moved to the area from south suburban Harvey and who is rarely seen without her dog, said last summer was quieter. But, with the apparent up tick in violence this year, she’s contemplating moving. “Every week my daughter, who lives in another state, sends me messages about what’s going on around here. She wants me to move. I’m thinking about it,” she said. She now has a rule to not go outside after sundown. “Each time I go out I have my dogs with me and no one messes with me. But, it’s just getting too bad that I don’t even want to take the dogs out when it’s dark,” said Mims. Anti-violence activist Andrew Holmes, of the No Guns, No Violence organization, went door-to-door in the area and to businesses on Cottage Grove Avenue passing out flyers seeking information about the shooting. Holmes said the culture of silence must stop. “People need to start opening their mouths. It‘s just that simple,” he said. The FBI and Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7 have offered a combined reward of $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those accountable for the murder of Bailey, a 20-year veteran of the department. The FBI joined the homicide investigation at the request of CPD. Bailey was gunned down Sunday morning outside his home in the 7400 block of South Evans Avenue during an apparent attempted carjacking or robbery, police said. The uniformed 62-year-old officer had just made it home after ending his overnight shift guarding Mayor Richard M. Daley’s residence when the shooting occurred. Bailey, who would have turned 63 and taken mandatory retirement August 14, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was pronounced dead less than an hour later. As many as three weapons, including the officer’s, was recovered at the scene, a source told the Defender. Police say they are looking for a Black man in his early 20s wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans with a long brown belt. Law enforcement is also looking for an older model tan Ford pickup truck, which may have bullet holes in one of the doors. A police pod camera on 75th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, and cameras in a Citgo gas station at the intersection of 76th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue may have captured the shooter fleeing. Detectives were seen questioning employees in the gas station. The middle of the officer’s block, which is about a half-block from Tanner Elementary School on 73rd Street and Evans, was riddled with shell casings. Bailey’s 2010 black Buick Regal was being processed for evidence. “Words cannot express the shock, sorrow and outrage we feel at the loss of a Chicago police officer,” said Beatrice Cuello, the Chicago Police Department’s assistant superintendent for administration. “This is the third brave officer killed since May. The job of being a police officer is incredibly rewarding. Each day we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Chicago residents. At the same time, being a police officer is incredibly dangerous. But it is a risk we accept without hesitation because of the overwhelming commitment to public service. The officer, and those we lost recently, embody that commitment to public service and the willingness to sacrifice their lives protecting all of us.” Bailey is the third Chicago police officer killed within the last two months. Most recently, Officer Thor Soderberg was attacked and disarmed outside a police facility in Englewood. He was gunned down July 7 with his own weapon. Officer Thomas Wortham IV was killed May 19 during the attempted theft of his motorcycle outside his parents Chatham home. The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the police-involved shooting. Anyone with information in Bailey’s shooting death is urged to call police at 312-747-8272, or FBI at 312-421-6700. Visitation for Bailey will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday at Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 78th and Cottage Grove Avenue. Services will be Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Sabina Catholic Church, 1210 W. 78th Pl. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender Photo: Defender/Worsom Robinson